Home Photo Tech Mirrorless vs DSLR Camera: Which One to Buy in 2019?

Mirrorless vs DSLR Camera: Which One to Buy in 2019?

DSLR and Mirrorless cameras are the best cameras in the present time. A DSLR is the most popular camera till now, but the mirrorless camera is gradually getting popular among the photographers. Now, which one to buy, DSLR or Mirrorless? Would we buy a DSLR having OVF or a mirrorless with EVF (electronic viewfinder)? Today we will see the Mirrorless vs DSLR fight and get the winner to buy in 2019.

Mirrorless vs DSLR: Which One to Buy in 2019?

In this article, we shall know what DSLR is and what is a mirrorless camera to find out the camera suitable for you to buy. This article will highlight the general description of both cameras and gradually discuss its mechanisms, merits, and demerits, etc. I hope this will help you to decide which camera you require.

1. Basic Difference 

Before starting the mirrorless vs DSLR fight, we should know the fundamental difference between them. Difference between a mirrorless camera and a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) is, there is a mirror between the lens and sensor of the camera in a DSLR, and a mirrorless has no mirror between the lens and the sensor. For this reason, the following things happen:

  • The light hits directly on the sensor on a mirrorless camera where it meets once the mirror locks up in a DSLR.

mirrorless vs dslr basic difference


  • The mirror of the DSLR sends the light to an OVF (optical viewfinder) after passing through a pentaprism and in a mirrorless camera there is an EVF (electronic viewfinder) which displays taking information directly from the sensor.

2. Size and Weight Fight

Size and weight of the camera are significant. There are some essential things which are dependent on these. Let’s see the comparison of whether to choose DSLR or Mirrorless:

  • Size 

Usually, the size of a DSLR is bigger than a mirrorless camera. The main reason is very easily understood when you see the fundamental difference between these two types of cameras. You have to make the housing for a mirror which is placed between the lens and sensor and a pentaprism placed at an angle between the mirror and OVF inside a DSLR. There is no requirement of placing such things inside a mirrorless camera. For size following ideas happens:

    • Housing Space Difference: For DSLR you need to manage more space in your carrying bag where you need a small space for the mirrorless camera.
    • Carrying Flexibility Difference: Due to a bigger size, a DSLR will be less flexible than a mirrorless camera in case of carrying it. In the fight mirrorless vs DSLR for carrying flexibility, the mirrorless wins.
    • Control Flexibility Difference: As a DSLR is more prominent in shape, thus the space for placing different controls is more. This can put more controls and make the control easy. Again, being smaller in size, a mirrorless camera has to either place all its controls in a little place, or it has to be operated with fewer controls. This makes the control tougher a bit. However, the operation is much more accessible to the present days mirrorless cameras.
    • Professional Look Difference: The bigger look of the DSLR gives it a professional look. The mirrorless camera is less known to all the people, thus makes a less professional impression towards others.

dslr or mirrorless

  • Weight 

This change in size has also made a difference between their weight.  The DSLR is a bit heavier than the mirrorless camera. As I mentioned, there is more equipment in a DSLR; thus, the weight is a bit more. Due to weight difference following things happens:

    • Carrying Weight: This is very easy to understand. DSLR has a bigger weight than mirrorless. This is not that mentionable if you are carrying it with a bag, but it is crucial when you are placing it on your hand for taking a photo. If the weight is more, then it will be difficult for you to keep the camera steady while capturing a photo or shooting a video which happens in case of a DSLR. Here the mirrorless camera wins.
    • Balance with Heavy Lens: When you fit a bigger lens on a camera, then the stability of the whole setup depends on the wight of the camera. If you install a bigger lens with a DSLR, then due to the weight of the camera body, the overall setup will be balanced in a better way than a mirrorless camera does with a bigger lens.

Balance reduce the shaking of the camera while shooting. So DSLR gives less vibration for setting a bigger lens than a mirrorless camera. However, this effect has less effect on the mirrorless camera for some other setup in it. We shall come to know these subsequently.

In the Mirrorless vs DSLR competition by its size and weight, a Mirrorless is recommended as it is smaller, easy to carry. But, in control and balance, the DSLR wins. So, DSLR or Mirrorless? I think both scored equally.

3. Shake

In one sense the shake while shooting is more in a mirrorless than a DSLR it makes a right balance due to its weight. But again, the weight itself acts as a negative catalyst to the balance for the DSLR. You can hold the DSLR firmly due to its proper shape, and a mirrorless will be held loosely as it is small. So which one has more shake, a mirrorless or DSLR? The shake is almost similar in both DSLR and mirrorless camera. 

4. IBIS (Inbody Image Stabilization)

IBIS is a system that is placed inside a camera to keep the image stable, and this system has provided a massive boost to the mirrorless camera in the Mirrorless vs DSLR competition. For a particular movement or change of position of the camera, this maintains the location of the sensor in its first place.

dslr or mirrorless IBIS

However, this system is absent in almost all the DSLR. Again most of the mirrorless cameras are incorporated with this system. So you can capture photo smoothly and sharply with a mirrorless camera, provided the camera has IBIS.

5. Flange Distance

The gap between the lens and the sensor is the flange distance. This distance is more in case of DSLR as there is a mirror placed between the lens and the sensor. The flange distance is less and minimum in the mirrorless camera which provides a sharper edge to edge image than the DSLR. 

mirrorless vs dslr flange distance

6. Battery Life

Being more significant in size, DSLR has better scope to fit a bigger battery in it. This provides the DSLR a comparatively more operating time than a mirrorless camera as a mirrorless camera can contain a smaller battery. You can place an external power with the DSLR making it more bigger and heavy, but this will be easy to hold and operate. 

On the other hand, you can power the mirrorless camera with a USB cable and a power bank. In that case, you need to hang a power bank and make it uncomfortable to operate. Presently mirrorless manufacturers have improved a lot and started to make a bigger size battery with a bigger body. Thereby the position of mirrorless in the mirrorless vs DSLR competition has come closer to DSLR. 

7. Viewfinders

The presence and absence of the mirror in two cameras have brought changes in the viewfinder. For the camera with a mirror, an OVF or optical viewfinder is there, and for the mirrorless camera there is an EVF or electronic viewfinder is there. Now, we will see some information about them and then decide which one is better. This is very important as most of the photographer changes their minds basing on the viewfinder.

    • Real Light or NOt: When you are looking with an OVF then you are seeing the actual light or the exact thing while you see one of the copies of your image of that moment on the EVF as it is connected to the sensor. So, you will see how your photo is going to look in an electronic viewfinder.
    • How Sharp You See: While looking through an Optical Viewfinder, you see the real light after being refracted and reflected through some lenses and mirrors. Here you will see the real-time image of the subject. On the other hand, EVF is an electronic display and obviously will not reach to that sharpness which you see with your own eyes in an OVF. 

However, The sharpness of electronic viewfinder has reached a satisfactory standard. This is now sharp enough to see how your photo looks like the moment you click the trigger, which is not possible in OVF. You have to imagine how your photo will look like while shooting with OVF. The quality of the EVF display is not evident to the equal standard of the camera display, but that will give you a very close idea about the photo.

    • Low Light Experience: When you see through the Optical Viewfinder, then you see the available light surrounding you. But once you capture a photo with higher ISO and slower shutter speed, then you find the result much brighter than you see with naked eyes. This is because the increase of ISO is done in the sensor, not in the viewfinder.

evf vs ovf

The final photo is shown on display after being amplified due to high ISO and slow shutter speed.  We do not see that with naked eyes as we can’t change the ISO and shutter speed of our eyes. That sounds funny.

We have already said that EVF takes the information from the sensor, so what we see will be the way you see on the LCD screen of the camera. Now we can say that EVF is better than OVF for lowlight performance.

    • Battery Consumption Rate: The battery consumption rate is higher for an Electronic Viewfinder than an OVF as the display of the EVF needs power, which is not required for an OVF. Thereby OVF is better than EVF in case of battery consumption rate.
    • Information: An Optical Viewfinder cannot show much information. There is minimal information which can be demonstrated on OVF. But as EVF is a display, you can see what the sensor can see. Histogram, focus peaking, zebra line, audio level, live condition of the photo, etc. are available to view on EVF.

mirrorless vs dslr evf information

This is very helpful if you can see while taking a photo through the viewfinder. And this point has boosted up the impression of Mirrorless in the Mirrorless vs DSLR competition. Many become interested in this reason and do not say ‘mirrorless or DSLR,’ instead they choose mirrorless.

    •  Availability During Video: You must have noticed that the mirror locks up while capturing video with a DSLR. That means the connection between the viewfinder and the lens cuts off. In a mirrorless camera, the principle of the mechanism is the same for both taking photo and shooting video. So an OVF is not functional while making a video but an Electronic Viewfinder is functional irrespective of video or photo mode. 
    • Response Time: Normally, the mirror of a DSLR camera remains at its usual position even if the camera is switched off. So when you switch on a DSLR, it does not require any time to initiate anything so you can see through the viewfinder just after opening. 

For a mirrorless camera, as the viewfinder is a digital display thus needs to power be functional. As a result, when you switch on a mirrorless camera, it takes a bit time to show you the subject through its viewfinder which is not required by a DSLR viewfinder. This irritates the photographer because he needs to wait for a specific time when he instantly feels the necessity of camera and remains for the power-up of EVF. 

    • Blackout: While shooting continuously on a DSLR, the mirror will flip each time a frame is taken; thereby, there will be a blackout in the viewfinder. This blackout is not there or negligible for an EVF. The shutter speed can be too fast in a mirrorless camera while shooting continuous, thereby the opening and closing of the shutter cant put a noticeable blackout on the viewfinder.
    • Light Leakage: While shooting a long exposure, it is not always possible to take a photo from a dark place. During that time you need to seal the eyepiece by an eyepiece cover if it is a DSLR. For short exposure, it is not required, but it is necessary if the exposure time is too long. However, this is not necessary for a mirrorless camera.

light leakage dslr or mirrorles

In a DSLR, the light enters through the lens and comes to the eyepiece or OVF. The light can also travel through OVF and go in the opposite direction. But, during long exposure photography, the mirror remains locked up, and the light passed through the OVF will reach the sensor and damage the image quality. A mirrorless is out of this problem.

These points of EVF and OVF has intensified the mirrorless vs DSLR competition. Here as a whole, the mirrorless in at a better position with it’s EVF. But, the OVF of a DSLR is still best. The EVF has improved a lot and has reached a very fine-tuned state. I hope the mirrorless or DSLR dilemma will now conclude as we can see the right side of an EVF.

8. Mirrorless vs DSLR: Sensor Size

It was believed that the sensor size of a mirrorless camera is always smaller than a DSLR. Maybe it was so, but present days are not the same as it was. Mirrorless camera has now reached to a very higher position and producing same size sensors like the largest sensors of DSLR available in the market. So in case of sensor size, there is no discrimination.

mirrorless vs dslr sensor size

9. Continuous Shooting

A very advanced and excellent quality DSLR costing a lot (around $6000) like Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II will give you at best 14-16 frames per seconds. But very usual mirrorless cameras like Sony RX 100 VI will provide you much more FPS like 24 frames per seconds which costs nearly $1200. A DSLR need to open its mirror door each time it captures a frame which is not required for a mirrorless camera. Thus the frame rate is comparatively high.

10. Mirrorless vs DSLR: Silent Shooting

There are a lot of occasions when you need to shoot silently. The flipping up and down of the mirror of a DSLR makes a clicking sound which is not yet possible to wipe out by the manufacturers. However, using an external cover can remove this sound, but it makes the control tougher.  The absence of a mirror in a mirrorless camera made it a complete silent one. So, in the fight of mirrorless vs DSLR camera for shooting silently, mirrorless wins.

11. Focus Points

The focus points of a DSLR camera remains around the center and roughly covers 60% of the frame as the flange distance is higher. Due to less flange distance in a mirrorless camera, the sensor gets more area of the lens and can place it’s focusing points almost all the parts of the frame. This can cover up to 90% of the frame. So, you get the maximum flexibility to select your focus point.

90% of the frame has the focus points

focus points of dslr
50-60% of the frame has the focus points

12. Entrance of Dust

A mirror protects the sensor of a DSLR. This prevents dust to enter the sensor when you change a lens. But a mirrorless camera has no protection like a mirror once you open the lens. Dust gets direct access to touch the sensor in a mirrorless camera. Presently canon has introduced protection once the lens is open. This is not available in all the mirrorless cameras. However, this will be launched very soon, hopefully. 

Mirror of DSLR acts as a primary cover of the sensor

mirrorless vs dslr sensor cover
EOS R has introduced a sensor cover

13. Mirrorless vs DSLR: Price Comparison

Price is always a massive concern while buying anything. It happens that you have liked everything on a camera, but you can not buy it as it goes above your budget. Earlier the price of mirrorless was comparatively higher than DSLR. Now, this has changed a lot, and you can see that the cost of relatively same performance cameras is equal for both. In most cases, the price of a mirrorless camera is now much less than a DSLR.

14. Cleaning

Cleaning the sensor is the most crucial part while cleaning a camera. The sensor is the most important and sophisticated part of a camera. As I said before, the sensor of a mirrorless camera is more suspected to dust than a DSLR. But the cleaning of sensor is effortless in mirrorless as there is less depth to reach the sensor and no mirror like a DSLR.  

cleaning dslr or mirrorless

15. Mirrorless vs DSLR: Lens Adaptation

Earlier there was a problem when it was not possible to use other lenses like lenses of DSLR in a mirrorless camera. Gradually the system was upgraded and using DSLR lens was possible in a mirrorless camera with an adapter. Initially, it used to work losing some quality and function. But, this is much better now and can be used the lenses of a DSLR into a mirrorless without losing much control and quality.

lens adaptation

Which One to Buy? Final Recommendation

In most of the comparisons, we could see that the mirrorless is better. In some of the cases, the state of DSLR is good. DSLR has been improving from a long time before, and the mirrorless technology is relatively newer. But, within this short time, the state and improvement of mirrorless are noteworthy. It indicates the bright future of mirrorless and also says that very soon mirrorless camera is going to take over the DSLR.

I believe the mirrorless camera will rule the future of photography. Very soon, the mirrorless camera will be superior to the DSLRs. So, why not to start using this from now?

Ending Thought

Mirrorless vs DSLR competition has started after a long time of the invention of DSLR. But, the competition has become very competitive within a short time after mirrorless was invented. The graph of its improvement and popularity increasing rate says that in a short time the mirrorless camera will take over the DSLR.

The above discussion says that mirrorless camera is better in many cases. It is easier to operate, carry, and maintain. Moreover, it provides an equal or sometimes better quality of images. There are some shortcomings in the mirrorless camera, but hopefully, these shortcomings will be resolved very soon by the manufacturers.

So, which one to buy? Mirrorless or DSLR? I hope you could decide by now. If you differ from our view and have brighter ideas, please share with us and let us know.


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